Dhaka– Bangladesh has joined the nations issuing e-passports for their citizens to comply with the standard set by the United Nations air navigation agency, ICAO.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Wednesday inaugurated the digital passport services in Dhaka hoping that it would ease the hassles being faced by the international passengers.
The new passports, which has embedded electronic microprocessor chip containing the holders’ biometric information, will phase out the machine-readable passports in circulation.
Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan handed the first e-passport to the prime minister at the inaugural session.
The Prime Minister said Bangladesh is the 118th country in the world to introduce the digital passports having enhanced security features to prevent it from being counterfeited.
The chip inside the passport booklet stores biometric information like iris, face and fingerprint of the holders for secure travelling.
According to ICAO counts more than 100 states are issuing e-passports and over 490 million digital passports are in circulation worldwide.
A German company, Veridos, was awarded the contract in July 2018 to introduce the new generation e-passport and border control system in Bangladesh with an estimated cost of 550 million dollars.
Veridos will set up equipments at 70 regional passport offices and 80 Bangladesh missions abroad, produce and supply 30 million e-passports and install the border control systems, including e-gates at all airports in 12 years.
Initially 2 million e-passports will be distributed among the applicants in three passport offices in Dhaka, said Major General Shakil Ahmed, head of Bangladesh’s passport and immigration department.
The regional offices will begin the process in phases, he added.
Bangladesh introduced the machine-readable passports in 2010 to replace over 6.6 million hand-written passports in circulation before an ICAO deadline to withdraw the traditional documents by November 2015.